Guest post: How our environments and music can influence our writing by Toinette Thomas

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of using our surroundings, is brought to you by multi-genre author Toinette Thomas.

How our environments and music can influence our writing

I’ve been involved in many discussions as of late about the different methods one uses to write. Everyone seems to have their own systems for capturing ideas, taking notes and making timelines, and even developing settings and characters. I think the most interesting conversations that have taken place in the journey of discovering methods, have been discussions about the different environments that people actually write in.

When it comes to sitting down and actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, every environment seem to be different in their subtleties, but I’ve noticed a few standards across the board.

First, there is the Silent Box. This is when the writer finds a place of seclusion away from all distractions. Whatever their preferred drafting medium is, whether it be pen and paper for some sort of mechanized or computing device, that’s all they bring with them. This writer is there to write. They have an idea that they don’t won’t to fade away and they don’t want to waste their time struggling to focus.

Next, there is the Social Recorder. This is when a writer likes to be around others when they work. They have ideas, but they rely on their own reactions to what’s happening around them, to bring the ideas together in a story. These are the writers who hang out in coffee shops and bookstores. This writer is all about living life and taking great effort to ensure that their story flows with real life emotion and interaction. This writer wants to be a part of their work and wants their work to be a part of their life.

Then, there’s the Traveling Act.  This writer may or may not have a set place to do their writing, but where ever it is, the ambience has to be just right for what they are writing at that moment.  This writer is about being consumed with a scene, as if they were writing a screenplay, and in cases, they are. This writer has a changing, yet particular, atmosphere they like to be in when writing a dramatic scene that will be very different from where or how they are, when writing a comedic scene. Many of these traveling acts will write in different rooms of their house, visit different treasure spots around town, and listen to a variety of music for inspiration. I’ve even spoken with a few who will dress according to what it is they want to write.

I think of myself as more a silent box writer. I like to focus, but I don’t believe that labels are permanent. I do often use music for inspiration, but only when I’m stuck. When I’m having trouble developing a certain aspect of a story, I find two things to be of great help.

Recently, Pinterest has been good for find visual cues to help my writing process. The way all the pinboards are categorized, all I have to do is search for what I’m looking for. Sure, I could to the same thing with Google images, but I find Pinerest has a personal touch that is invaluable when trying to capture emotion. Then there’s music. Music is so varied; there is truly something for every subject. I personally find that having a good collection of varied movie soundtracks to be very helpful. If I need inspiration for a sci-fi piece, I seek out Star Was or the Matrix. If I’m working on romance, I seek out Moonstruck or Sleepless in Seattle.

Regarding my book Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel, I mostly stayed in my silent box while writing this story, but I did venture out a few times to sample the soundtracks to Underworld, Moonstruck, and Phantom of the Opera. I hope you enjoy this synopsis: A wealthy doctor in search of a purpose and an isolated outcast searching for acceptance, meet online and discover that they may be just what the other has been looking for. Mira’s a woman who believes in what she knows and Giovanni’s a man who knows better than to think he truly knows anything. When Mira decides to meet Giovanni face to face, for the first time, at his secluded country home, their journey truly begins. Mira strives to help Giovanni embrace his humanity, though with his freakishly gray skin and tall stature, it is obvious that at least part of him isn’t human. As Mira and Giovanni float in and out of realistic dream sequences and come face to face with their greatest fears, Giovanni undergoes a transformation that neither of them is prepared to deal with. Passing through the winter and meeting the spring with mixed emotions of grief and content, Giovanni and Mira prepare to take on all the powers of heaven and hell to fulfill their united purpose.

So, that’s how I write. I’m a writer in a silent box, but every now and then, I come out to seek inspiration with the tunes of my favorite soundtracks. What kind of writer are you?

Thank you, Toinette.

A self-proclaimed techie and foodie, Toi Thomas was born in Texas, but considers Virginia to be her home. Growing up in Dallas, Toi had a strong interest in reading fiction and loved to watch movies. Even today, many of Toi’s friends come to her for the answers to movie trivia. Working with computers and cooking lavish meals have become reoccurring pastimes for the Virginia Beach teacher’s assistant, but now Toi wants to entertain the world with the first installment of her new books series. She is thrilled to take the world on a journey to discover the secrets of the Eternal Curse.

You can find out more about her and her book via…


If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with chick lit novelist Sofia Essen – the five hundred and twenty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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